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Inclusive employment pilot lights the way in Powell River

Inclusive employment pilot lights the way in Powell River

March 5, 2021 at 12:03 pm  BC, News, Politics

A new inclusive employment pilot project is providing eligible Powell River residents with on-the-job work experience and skills training while they earn a fair wage in a new social enterprise.

OneLight is a social enterprise that manufactures a fire starter that uses recycled materials diverted from the landfill. It can be used to start a fire, indoors and out, in minutes. Project participants are paid for task-based industrial work, product assembly, logistics and general sales.

“Having a job can give people a sense of pride and purpose. When our skills are put to use we feel valued, and everyone deserves to feel valued,” said Nicholas Simons, Minister of Social Development and Poverty Reduction. “This is an exciting project taking place here on the Sunshine Coast.”

Now in its seventh month of operation, 25 people are getting work experience on the project. More than 80% of workers on the project experience developmental disabilities and/or multiple barriers to employment.

“What I have seen is a huge rise in my son’s development,” said Jenny, a parent of a OneLight participant. “He’s remembering a lot more, problem-solving a lot more. It’s good that he tried other things before OneLight and as a family we tried different things. The fact that this is successful shows that it’s being done right. It’s a really big forward movement and I hope they can expand it and give more people purpose.”

Participants and managers undertook an intensive two-week orientation process aimed at building relationships and co-developing workplace guidelines for healthy communications and conflict resolution. Establishing a shared workplace culture has been noted by participants as being a critical success factor.

“The way they started the program off with the team training was huge. It let us all relax, all get to know each other on a personal level and feel more like equals – not that it’s ‘the boss’ you’re talking to,” said Barb, a OneLight participant.

The Province is providing more than $1 million to Inclusion Powell River Society to deliver a 72-week work experience opportunity. The project will also test an inclusive model of employment in the manufacturing sector.

“For some participants it is their first job, and they are reporting to us that earning money comes with additional valuable learning opportunities – from which independence grows – including going to the bank, learning about workers’ rights, making financial decisions, and supporting oneself and others,” said Lilla Tipton, CEO, Inclusion Powell River.

This is a new Community and Employer Partnership (CEP) project from the Government of British Columbia.

Funding for this project is provided through the Project-Based Labour Market Training stream of WorkBC’s CEP. CEP is targeted at projects that support an inclusive economic recovery. CEP supports B.C. job seekers’ training and work experience leading to employment in available jobs, and aids businesses and communities to address labour-market challenges. CEP invests $15 million annually in communities throughout B.C.

The project started on Sept. 21, 2020. Project activities run through to April 15, 2022. Anyone interested in finding out more about this or other CEP projects can contact their local WorkBC centre.

Quick Fact:

  • A social enterprise is a revenue-generating organization with the objective to have a social impact.

Learn More:

Watch a video of the project in action: https://www.qimproject.com/?wix-vod-video-id=437e0de1cdef4d6589587795b73a3eb0&wix-vod-comp-id=comp-klu93d4n

Learn how CEPs are helping local communities: www.workbc.ca/Employment-Services/Community-and-Employer-Partnerships.aspx

Learn about how WorkBC can help find British Columbians jobs that are right for them: www.workbc.ca/rightforyou

Find your local WorkBC centre: https://www.workbc.ca/Employment-Services/WorkBC-Centres/WorkBC-Centres-Listing.aspx

qathet Inclusive Manufacturing Pilot Project: https://www.qimproject.com/

OneLight Fire Starter: https://onelight.ca/

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